Ecuador at loggerheads over minimum banana price

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Ecuador at loggerheads over minimum banana price

Ecuadorian growers and exporters have failed to reach an agreement on the minimum price of a box of bananas, website reported.

Producers were pushing for a rise from the current government support price of US$5.50 to US$6.00 per 43lbs (19.5kg) box for 2012.

However, exporters have been claiming that US$5.50 was too much in the current economic crisis and had been pressing the regulator to go down to $US5.05.

Machala Agricultural Center president Paúl González, told the website producers were prepared to be flexible.

"We are willing to compromise and talk, as long as they keep the same price, but above all it must be respected," he was quoted as saying.

He explained the current default price of $US 5.50 allowed growers to cover production costs and maintain a reasonable profit of 22%.

But he warned if it dropped by 45 cents profits would fall to 11% which would mean small and medium producers would go out of business.

"Next year there has to be enough profit to cover wage increases, tax bills and expenses , so to think about reducing the minimum price would bring serious consequences."

Next Monday the Cost Commission, representing both growers and exporters, will meet to assess a minimum price.

If they fail to reach an agreement then Agriculture minister Staynley Vera, will decide the price for 2012.

The government announced on Aug. 18 it would help exporters meet the official price of US$5.50 per 43lbs (19.5kg) box by buying up to one million bunches per week from growers.


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